Losing a loved one is one of the most difficult things any of us have to go through in life, and can be made even more difficult and emotional if there’s a dispute over a Will, trust or estate. But we’re here, just like we’ve always been, to help resolve the most complex and challenging Will disputes, so you can focus on protecting what matters most.
Claire-Marie Cornford is lead partner in our Will, Trust and Estate Disputes team in London. She’s passionate about social justice and ensuring that others have access to the English legal system.
Claire-Marie has taken some time out to have a virtual chat with us about her journey into law, what she enjoys most about working at Irwin Mitchell and how she supports her clients.
Claire-Marie, what are the main issues your clients face and what needs do they have when they come to you for legal help?
We look after clients who are experiencing a crisis in their lives. For many of our clients, it’s the first time they’ve worked with a solicitor, so it can be a very daunting experience. They often arrive in our first meeting knowing the problems they face, but having no idea how to solve them. It’s at this point we’re able to demonstrate our experience and expertise in helping them to understand what’s happening now, what will happen next, and the options available to them for resolving their issues, whatever they may be. No matter how big or small, they’re very important to each client.
How do you and your team support people when they face a dispute?
We’re very patient. We do a lot of listening so we can understand the legal issues our clients are facing and understand each of their aims and objectives, as every individual’s circumstances are unique. We give our clients the confidence to put their trust in us and to share very personal information, which they may not have discussed with anyone before.
How do you and your team support people when they're facing legal disputes?
We place our client at the centre of all we do and take the time to understand what it is that they really want.
The process is just as important as the outcome. Regular, clear communication empowers our clients, as does allowing them time to make decisions.
We challenge the clients’ assumptions about litigation, and talk about alternative way to resolve disputes early on in the process, such as mediation, collaborative law, early neutral evaluation, private dispute resolution and arbitration.
Our clients also want (and need) the help of other professionals. We don't advise speaking to only one expert. Family law clients often need counselling or coaching services, and we can draw in our contacts. They often need financial advice and this is where we turn to our financial planning experts who offer clear, honest and practical advice.
What makes you proud to be a lawyer here at Irwin Mitchell?
I’m proud to be a lawyer at Irwin Mitchell because of the diverse range of people we represent. Our clients include those seeking advice on complex multi-jurisdictional litigation to individuals for whom we act on a conditional fee agreement. I think this sense of inclusion and diversity is part of the culture at Irwin Mitchell. I strongly believe in social justice and facilitating access to the English legal system for clients who are unable to access it without our assistance.
What inspired you to get into law?
My parents inspired me to follow my dreams and do whatever I wanted to do in life. They worked hard to give me the opportunities they didn’t have. I was the first member of my family to go to university and gain a degree. My route into law wasn’t easy but facing adversity builds resilience - which is part of the reason I love the work I do. I often become most inspired about the cases that don’t have an obvious solution. It’s part of who I am – I like finding a route through when all avenues appear to be blocked.
Here to help
We have the largest specialist team in the country for dealing with Will, trust and estate disputes. We understand how difficult it can be when the terms of the Will are not as expected, or there are disagreements between those inheriting and those in charge of administering the estate or looking after the various assets.
We understand that this is a sensitive matter, often involving close family and loved ones. At every stage we’ll strive to make sure your claim goes as smoothly as possible, and reaches the best resolution.
To read more about the services we offer, visit our Will, Trust and Estate Disputes web page.
'Irwin Mitchell has a really experienced contentious trusts and probate team headed up by the very experienced and bright Claire-Marie Cornford. The firm has all the benefits of a large multi-office practice, whilst really retaining a personal touch' - Legal 500
'Claire-Marie leads from the front and is a focused and tenacious litigator. She has great experience with heavyweight private client litigation and is not afraid of a fight. She is very well supported by an excellent team. In particular, Kate Harris has really impressed me with her pragmatic and calm approach to difficult issues and aggressive opponents' - Legal 500
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